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History Presentation and B-25 Flight Demonstration
July 22, 2023
The 345th Bomb Group in the Pacific – B-25 Mitchell Low Level Attackers
Saturday, July 22nd
Doors Open at 8am – Presentation Starts at 9am
In the early days of WWII General George Kenney’s 5th Air Force employed extraordinary tactics to blunt the Japanese advance on New Guinea and turn the tide in the Allies favor. One of the most storied units of that campaign was the 345th Bomb Group equipped with B-25 Mitchell medium bombers. The unit was formed in November 1942 and deployed to the Southwest Pacific Theater in April 1943. Setting up operations at the airfield complex at Port Moresby, the 345th was the first full Army Air Forces combat group in the Pacific.
In August 1943 the group converted from the conventional medium bomber role to the “strafer” role that the 345th would become famous for. Now configured with up to 14 forward firing .50 caliber machine guns, the group’ conducted low level attacks on Japanese shipping, troops, and facilities. The group’s B-25s could make the superstructure of an enemy ship dissolve as the armor-piercing incendiary projectiles melted it. During the 26 months that the 345th was in combat, it conducted 10,609 combat strikes while sinking 260 Japanese vessels and damaging 275 others. The group destroyed 260 Japanese planes on the ground and another 107 in aerial combat. Its units won four Distinguished Unit Citations.
The 345th lost 712 men from all causes, 580 killed on missions. In all, the 345th participated in nine major campaigns in the Asia-Pacific Theater. From New Guinea to the Philippines and even China, the 345th became one of the most decorated units of the war. The 345th Bomb Group was deactivated in December 1945.
On Saturday, July 22nd, beginning at 9:00 am, museum docent and Air Force veteran Matt Ouding will tell the story of the 345th and its innovative low-level tactics and combat history. The museum’s B-25, which features the markings of the 345th Bomb Group, will fly, weather permitting.